Welcome to the 2021-2022 School Year!

Dear Fairfax County Students, Families and Staff,

I hope that you have had a restful and happy summer and had the chance to recharge and regroup after the difficult last year. When I last wrote to you, the COVID news was good with vaccinations and declining numbers.  Now we are faced with another uptick in cases due to the Delta variant and a leveling off in vaccinations.  This is not the backdrop we had hoped for as we return to five days a week, in-person instruction for the 2021-2022 school year. But, at least we know a lot more now than we did last summer and are continuing to work closely with our health experts and adjust as we go to keep students and staff as safe as possible.  

FCPS has strongly encouraged vaccinations for all who are eligible, including partnering with the Fairfax County Health Department to hold vaccination clinics at school in the spring and summer.  Starting in October, FCPS will also require all staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit routine negative COVID-19 test results.  And, in accordance with the advice of health experts and the Virginia mandate, FCPS is requiring universal masking in buildings unless alone in a room or actively eating or drinking.  We know that our students need to be in school and we are heeding expert advice to welcome our students back where they belong and do our best to keep everyone safe.  Our administration, teachers, and staff are excited for the new school year and are working hard to make it a great year!

I know the main job of our schools at the beginning of this year is to reconnect our students, families and staff to the school community. That sense of belonging, of community, of excitement over school, is key to ensuring students are open and ready to learn. This is the important and necessary step to addressing the various challenges and losses of last year and continue the work of providing an excellent education to all our students. I have been so happy to feel the energy and excitement of our students in the halls of our schools during the open houses and back to school events! 

It has been a difficult and divisive year. Everyone is understandably stressed, tired, anxious, and traumatized. I hope, as we have learned how to live with this pandemic, we can begin to heal, to unite in support of one another, of our students, and come together for our community. 

As always, I appreciate your calls, emails, and feedback. It is all very helpful in my advocacy as we move forward.  I am always willing to listen to your concerns and help resolve issues as best I can. Please don’t hesitate to reach out!

You can view my 2021-2022 Welcome Video here.

My warmest regards,


Below you will find information on:

  • Return to School
  • School Board News
  • Other FCPS News
  • Community News and Resources
  • Quick Links

Return to School

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2021-22 School Year to Start on August 23

We are looking forward to having students back in classrooms 5 days a week in the fall. Please visit the 5 Days In-Person in Fall website for the latest information. 

To strengthen these layered prevention strategies even further, starting this fall, FCPS will be requiring all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit routine negative COVID-19 tests. The requirement will go into effect in October, with additional details being rolled out in the coming weeks. Learn more about the vaccine at the Fairfax County Health Department website.

Be sure to note that the first day of school for the 2021-22 school year will be Monday, August 23. The last day of school is June 10, 2022. See the complete 2021-22 school year calendar.

Return to School Town Halls with Dr. Brabrand


Superintendent Scott Brabrand hosted a virtual community Return to School Town Hall on Monday, August 16, joined by Benjamin Schwartz, of the Fairfax County Health Department - you can view the recording here.

Dr. Brabrand also hosted a Return to School Town Hall in Spanish on Tuesday, August 16th. The Town Hall was streamed live on FCPS Facebook en Español. You can view the recording here.

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Secondary Grading and Homework Updates 

In response to conditions of pandemic learning last school year, seven temporary changes were made to secondary grading. 

A stakeholder working group reviewed the changes in May/June 2021 and recommended retiring most of the temporary changes, but recommended two changes. The following changes have been approved by FCPS Leadership:  

  • Establish 50 as the lowest grade on a 100-point scale
  • Allow late work on major assignments with minimal penalty

In addition, as we return for School Year 2021-22, we need to recalibrate homework expectations to account for both student wellness and the existing FCPS regulation on homework.  To ensure that student homework falls within existing FCPS regulations:

  • Middle school teachers should plan for homework not to exceed 25 minutes per class block.
  • High school teachers should plan for homework not to exceed 30 minutes per class block.
  • When long-term projects require additional time, teachers should adjust daily homework assignments accordingly.
  • Reading assignments are considered part of the homework load.

Learn more.

2021-22 Back to School Night Schedule

The schedule for this year's Back to School Nights is available online. The schedules are posted by the region your child’s school is in.

Don’t know your school’s region? Search for your school in the Schools and Centers Directory, then click on the school name. You can also check your school’s website for more information on its back-to-school events.

School Board News

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The following updates are from the July 15th Regular Meeting.

Chair and Vice Chair Elected for SY 2021-22

The School Board unanimously elected Stella Pekarsky (Sully District) as School Board Chair and me, as Vice Chair for a one-year term. I am honored and grateful to receive the support of my fellow Board members, humbled by their faith in my leadership, and will work hard to support Stella as we bring all members together to work for the good of our students, families, and staff. 


Student Rights and Responsibilities

The School Board unanimously voted to adopt Regulation 2601.35P, Student Rights and Responsibilities (SR&R). Improvements to the SR&R for the 2021-22 school year reflect FCPS’ commitment to ensuring students feel safe, supported, and respected in every one of our schools. 

Notable changes include:

  •  Edited language throughout the document to reflect gender neutrality.
  • A new section entitled Notable Changes for Students and Parents that highlights changes in the SR&R from last school year.
  • Restructuring of the Rights and Responsibilities Chapter with student rights prominently featured.
  • Language that further defines interaction of law enforcement and students.
  • Additional terms in the glossary to increase understanding.

You can learn more on the Students Rights and Responsibilities page. In our interest to serve all students, FCPS has also updated our LGBTQIA+ resources page on the FCPS website. 


Adoption of Joint Environmental Task Force Recommendations 

The Fairfax County School Board has accepted the recommendations of the Joint Environmental Task Force (JET) to set a goal for the school division to become carbon neutral by 2040. This action follows the same commitment from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors earlier this week. 

The JET final report outlines 28 recommendations that address energy use, transportation, waste management and recycling, and workforce development. 

Learn more.


ESSER III Funding 

The School Board unanimously voted to authorize the superintendent to develop and submit a formal plan to the state in order to fully access all Federal ESSER III Grant Funds. The School Board will discuss the ESSER III plan at the August 24th Work Session and approve the official ESSER III Funding Plan at our meeting on August 26. The FCPS Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) funding allocation is $188.6 million for expenses related to the pandemic to be spent over multiple years.


Adjustments to Allow for More Citizen Participation 

Beginning in February of 2020, public input and discussion began around increasing opportunities for public comment at School Board meetings. The School Board approved adjustments to public participation, which will increase accessibility to the speaker slots and topics. This:

  • Increases speaker slots to 16.
  • Ends requirement for speakers to only speak to items on the meeting agenda. 
  • Eliminates spots set aside for organizations, and everyone is subject to the same time limit. 
  • Reserves three spots for current students and three spots for video submissions.
  • Selects speakers at random from those who register, making it accessible to those who cannot be online at 6 a.m.
  • Retains ability for community members to testify virtually, allowing for greater access and ease of participation.
  • Adds two public hearings each year without a preset number of speakers.

Upcoming School Board Meetings

  • Aug 24th at 11 a.m.- Work Session
    •  11am-12:30pm Opening of Schools Update; FY21 Year-End Review; 
    • 1pm-3pm ESSER Funding Plan
  • August 26th at 7 p.m.- Regular School Board Meeting

Accessing Board Meetings and Materials

Other FCPS News


Fairfax County Public Schools’ contract with Blackboard ended on June 30. Our new learning management system, Schoology, is a learning space that enhances face-to-face and distance learning through communication, collaboration, and personalized learning.  

Teachers use Schoology to post their classroom materials online; to provide a safe forum for students to discuss their ideas and collaborate on projects; and to assign and collect homework electronically. It helps students stay organized and it keeps the class connected.

A Schoology Parent Account gives you access to:

  • Your child’s classes.
  • Your child’s upcoming assignments.
  • School, class, and group announcements.

Parent accounts will be available in mid-August. To access Schoology, parents will need to have an active SIS/ParentVUE account. 

More information on how to log in and use Schoology is available online.

Free Meals 

FCPS is offering healthy no-cost meals at all locations this school year as part of VDOE’s Seamless Summer Option implemented under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Enrolled in-person students will be offered a nutritious meal for breakfast and lunch each day at no charge to the household. 

FCPS will be also offering no-cost bulk meal kits for students attending virtually and community members at the following locations:

Distribution will be every Wednesday starting on 8/25, and from 8:30 am-10 am.

All FCPS students (regardless of age) are eligible for free meals, as well as other county children that are eighteen (18) years and under.  Parents/caregivers picking up meal kits for children should let staff know how many children's meals they need.  Adults may purchase meal kits at the central kitchen sites. 

Please contact the Office of Food and Nutrition Services at 703-813-4800 with any questions.

2021 School Construction Bond

A school bond referendum will be on the general election ballot Tuesday, November 2, 2021.  The building and renovation of schools are not financed through the school system’s operating funds, but through bonds. The law requires that county voters approve general obligation bonds since they are a future obligation for taxpayers.  The estimated expense to underwrite and issue bonds is reflected in the bond referendum total. You can learn more about the 2021 School Construction Bond here.


FCPS Launching eSports Program

Calling all eSports lovers!

FCPS is preparing to launch an eSports program, following the approval of the Virginia High School League, which governs sports, activities, and competitions in public schools throughout the Commonwealth.

September Webinars at the Parent Resource Center

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The Parent Resource Center will be offering the following webinars in September:

  • How to Improve Your Child’s Executive Functioning Skills Without All the Arguments This School Year
  • Military-Connected Students and School Transition: A Family Webinar
  • 5 Ways to Stop Anxiety, Power Struggles, & Behavior Issues: A Webinar for Families

See their newsletter for more details and information on how to register.

Community News and Resources

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Learn more about the following resources to support families:

  • Child Care Assistance and Referral (CCAR): Provides assistance finding and paying for child care. 
  • Community Education and Provider Services (CEPS/Permits): Issues the county’s Home Child Care Permit; provides training and assistance to family child care providers; and administers the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program.
  • Head Start / Early Head Start: Provides early childhood education services for income-eligible families with children ages birth to 5 years old, and to expectant mothers.
  • Infant & Toddler Connection (ITC): Provides evaluations and early intervention services for infants and toddlers (up to age 3) who have a developmental delay or a diagnosis that may lead to developmental delays.
  • School Age Child Care (SACC): Offers fun, safe and educational care for 5-12 year-olds before school, after school and during school vacations.

Quick Links

The views contained within this newsletter reflect the views of the individual school board member who is the publisher of this newsletter and may not reflect the views of the Fairfax County School Board.

© 2021 Fairfax County Public Schools, Fairfax County, Virginia